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  License to Drive Custom-Made Vehicle
Year: 1988
Director: Greg Beeman
Stars: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Carol Kane, Richard Masur, Heather Graham, Michael Manasseri, Harvey Miller, Michael A. Nickles, Nina Siemaszko, Grant Goodeve, James Avery, Grant Heslov, Michael Ensign, Helen Hanft, Christopher Burton, Jill Jaress, Parley Baer
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Les Anderson (Corey Haim) is on the school bus, chained to his seat along with his fellow students but trying to escape by cutting through the metal with a file. When the vehicle pauses at a junction, he wipes some of the grime from the window and sees Mercedes (Heather Graham) lounging in a sports car and makes up his mind to join her, so jumps through the back window and into the driver's seat of the car, then they take off with the bus in hot pursuit. It's not giving in until Les zooms through a patch of fuel and throws a match to set it on fire, which stops the chase in its tracks and then he wakes up. He's actually been sleeping through a driver's education class, and the test is tomorrow...

The two Coreys, Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, generated so much goodwill among their fans that it continued well into the period of their career and personal lives which was not so fruitful, and if anything after Haim passed away that merely bolstered the affection their followers had for them, summing up as they did a particular point in time - the late eighties, early nineties - which were the teen years of the target audience. If you were being harsh, you could observe that damn few of the stars' shared projects really deserved any staying power and it was solely the power of nostalgia which kept their names alive in the hearts of those who appreciated their work at a certain age.

But, you know, it was difficult to be too down on items of pop culture which were intended to be nothing more than a quick cash-in on two young men's fleeting fame, and this kind of ephemera did have an appeal if you were not feeling too demanding. It's just that the Coreys' lives in retrospect got so bleak so quickly that you couldn't ignore what a terrible time they had, with both struggling with drug addictions and Feldman hitting a downward spiral of paranoia and Haim, well, Corey Haim died. He wasn't even forty years old. Therefore this pall of despair hangs over their work which can be hard to shift, but it's not as if they were the only child stars to grow up and break down in public, and you could take some succour in the fact that those fans were so loyal.

As for License to Drive, aside from The Lost Boys it was fondly recalled by those with an interest as the finest of the Coreys' cinematic endeavours, even though outsiders were harder to convince. As our hero, Les Anderson (not Wes Anderson - the future cult director must surely have seen this and thought, "Hey!") wants two things most in all the world, his driving license and Mercedes for a girlfriend, so what are the odds he will get both by the end of the movie? Ah, not so fast, for one element of that is not resolved, apparently because the filmmakers couldn't be bothered going into such niggling details, but the fact remained Les had a personality problem which kept making him his own worst enemy. He wasn't a psychopath or anything like that, nope, yet he was a compulsive liar.

If Les had just been honest about his situation then he'd have caused himself a lot less trouble, and everyone else for that matter, making it rather irksome that he exits the story laughing and assuredly on top, sending out a message that fibbing and deceiving is the easy way through life, and not only that, you'll have a great story to tell at the end of it, if you can drag yourself out of the mire of falsehood long enough to offer an accurate account. Anyway, License to Drive, once it had established the premise that Les failed his test and had to work out how to take Mercedes out that Saturday night with his Grandpa's borrowed (i.e stolen) car, taking a good third of the running time, unfolded as one of those "into the night" efforts where the protagonist became embroiled with increasing degrees of mayhem as the evening wore on. Most of this was fair enough, with Mercedes getting blind drunk on champagne and Feldman joining them for the requisite car chase, but Richard Masur as Les's dad arguably stole the show, such as it was. Music by Jay Ferguson (and some horrible, tinny covers).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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